John Terry January 20, 2016
As we have now entered 2016, I thought I would write and bring you up to date on GOMI’s “Learning to Steward the Gulf” (L2SG) activities since our spring meeting in Toronto with TD Bank Friends of the Environment Foundation. While initial activities have occurred mainly in the New England area, preliminary recruitment efforts have also been underway in the Canadian Maritimes.
First a word or two on New England: with support from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the New England Biolabs Foundation, we began our new L2SG teacher initiative this summer with the recruitment of 13 teachers from the New England area, including Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Recruits include elementary, middle and high school teachers, along with one community college professor. While they represent all disciplines, most are science teachers and all are highly motivated and enthusiastic. Hal and I are delighted in their diversity and very encouraged by their enthusiasm. As of this writing, we have had three half-day training sessions and one overnight field trip to Cape Cod where teachers participated, along with some students, in a sea turtle rescue program being conducted by Massachusetts Audubon and the New England Aquarium (some pics included).
Shortly upon funding, formal recruiting activities will begin in the Maritimes. We already have a plan in place and will be working closely Dr. Anna Redden, Director of Acadia University’s Estuarine Research Centre (AUERC) and Acadia Tidal Energy Institute (ATEI). Meghan Swanburg, an ATEI Environmental Project Engineer, presented tidal energy teaching materials to Nova Scotia teachers at the Annual Association of Science Teachers Conference in Halifax on October 23rd, 2015. The teachers present represented three Nova Scotia School districts, two of whose regions follow the coast of the Bay of Fundy. Meghan provided a brief backdrop to GOMI’s earlier involvement in the Maritimes and then introduced the new L2SG teacher initiative. Meghan explained L2SG in detail and encouraged teachers to either consider taking part in the program or pass on the information to those who may be interested. The Director of Programs for the Tri-County Regional School Board was also in attendance and showed strong interest in the teacher initiative. The Tri-County Board embraces the southwest region of Nova Scotia, surrounding Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne. GOMI has a positive and long-standing relationship with the Regional School Board through the Summer Institute. Information, including a brochure on L2SG, was distributed, contact details gathered, and a follow-up email sent post conference with further information and links to the GOMI website.
Our active follow-up late winter/ in early spring will include school visits and personal interviews. The goal will be to recruit a comparable group of Maritime teachers into the L2SG professional development project. Similar to that being done with the New England teachers, Maritimes teachers will begin with a spring information/planning workshop followed in the summer by a 3-day summer workshop. The plan is to bring the US and Canadian groups together in a combined teacher conference/workshop, which will be the forerunner of an annual conference on the Gulf and climate change. Aspects of this conference will be open to interested others.
Our drifter project has just broken a record. Our Middlesex Community College team’s constructed drifter is the first student-built drifter to ever make it as far east as the Azores, a total of 7,236 kilometers since it was first launched off Gloucester in early June. What is really amazing is that it reported data the morning of January 17 after having survived Hurricane Alex, the first January hurricane in the North Atlantic in over 50 years! You may follow this drifter on the googlemap.